Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Dear Naturalist...

Dear Naturalist,

First, let me say thank you. I know it looked rainy and you were concerned about your animals and specimens being safe. Thank you for coming anyway. Thank you also for making an expensive program affordable for a small homeschool group to afford. We do appreciate your time and knowledge.

I do need to let you know something for future programs. Sometimes homeschool groups have young children. If you are not interested in having young children participate please speak up during the planning stage of the event. We would understand. Also, if you are not comfortable having your animals near children who are living with special needs please mention that during the planning stage. Keep in mind that most homeschooling groups do have toddlers and preschoolers as well as children living with special needs.

You mentioned working with older children which is great. Keep in mind, though, that younger children have different developmental needs and stages. When you requested that no child pick up a rock or stick at a regional park, I was a little surprised. Surely you were trying to keep everyone safe which I understand completely. However, my toddler is usually allowed to hold a thin stick or, as when you gave him a dirty look, hold a pine needle. This is part of normal exploration and learning. As I directed my son toward an area further from the animals because he had items in his hand, he protested because he loves spiders and snakes. Sadly you chose to interrupt my interaction with my son to tell me how you cannot compete with his noise. I was already on the case and the issue would have resolved much more quickly had you stayed out of it. Did you hear me clearly enough when I said, as kindly as I could muster, that he is two and this is normal behavior even though he is living with Sensory Processing Disorder? Did you notice how four parents, all paying clients just like me by the way, walked to me and supported me as I brought my son to a location further from you? Please know that I understand where you are coming from, but I need for you to understand that my son lost out on part of a very educational experience because of your choices. I will not go into the detail regarding how far my child has come since the days of banging his head repeatedly for up to an hour. I will say that if all he did was yell a few times while outdoors, that is huge progress in his situation.

I do hope you enjoyed your time with the other children and parents. They seemed to have fun too. My daughters enjoyed learning about scorpions, snakes, and spiders. I chose not to confront you because I was not calm and in that case nothing good would have come from such an exchange. I do hope you will think about the development of young children and elementary age children before you do another program. I also hope you enjoyed the tip our group gave you. I always tip for a service rendered because it is not easy to present to children. I hope that you continue to serve the community with naturalist programs because you are very knowledgeable. Just please keep in mind who your audience is each time.


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Please Validate Your Child's Feelings

I often see young children being told "it is ok" or "calm down" when crying because they are hurt or sad. I know the parents probably feel like others are staring at them or judging them. Honestly though, I am thankful when a parent scoops up a child who is having a hard time and validates the child's feelings. We all have feelings. We all have the right to express those feelings in a safe way. Young children often do this by crying. Crying relieves pressure and stress.

Please validate your child's feelings as normal and necessary. No one thinks you are  bad parent because your child has feelings. If a child is stifled and bottles feelings up now, he or she will not be able to work through larger emotions when grown. Eventually all those bottled feelings WILL come out very possibly in a less than safe manner. This is most definitely part of why we have violence in the world.

Thank you!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Memorization Versus Practice and Use

My son likes to make letters with toothpicks, clay, rice, stickers, and other items.
Today I overhead a conversation between two parents while out and about. The discussion was about memorization and how they still remember things they memorized in school now that they are adults. One parent mentioned an educator she knows who suggested memorization occurring at a quicker pace if the information is put to music. Most people would not think anything of this conversation. I will be honest, I am not like other people and I question everything. This conversation made my stomach turn a bit sour. Keep in mind that I taught for many years and currently teach my own children at home. In my experience, children who know how to look up and use information are quicker to solve problems and can see problems from varying viewpoints more easily than children who have spent much of their time memorizing facts and figures only to be forced to regurgitate the information.

We humans naturally memorize information we use often and benefit from research skills. If I know the way home, then I can get home safely as well as teach someone else how to get to my home. If I memorize times tables I may or may not be able to recall them out of order to solve problems because outside of school my daily life may not include the need for this skill especially the use of two digit numbers. It is more important to give our children repeated experiences to practice skills and use information, than to have them sit and work on a worksheet or sit and look through flash cards. Remember, repetition and practice are necessary and a child will not learn everything there is to know about a topic in one sitting anyway even if you use flashcards and forced memorization.

Below are some ideas that will help your child practice skills without forcing memorization on the child. You can even use flashcards for some of the ideas! You are still practicing commonly known information, but not keeping your child from using the information in different and creative ways to think critically. I hope that my post helps inspire you to find hands on ways to teach children rather than using rote memorization to teach topics.

1. Play go fish
2. Play memory
3. Teach someone else the information
4. Draw an advertisement
5. Write a story or paragraph
6. Use the information to solve a problem
7. Science experiments

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

I Need The Bucket

I will be using colorful have been warned.

Today I needed a Fuck It Bucket. What is that you say? Well many years ago I taught kindergarten with a very wise woman who stole this idea from a book she was reading. If I knew who authored it I would let you  know but I do not remember. Basically the idea is that you get a bucket with your favorite candy, wine, or even a book and when life seems to be throwing everything negative at you all at one time you say "FUCK IT" and get something out of the bucket and consume it. So yes, today I needed a fuck it bucket. I think my to do list tomorrow will include making one.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

My Kids' Classes Are Stressful...For Me

I am a peaceful/attachment parent. I am not perfect, but I work hard to make each day better than the last. One of the things we save our money for is community center classes for our children. They each choose what they want to do and we make sure they can attend.

My son is a toddler and has gone to his class of choice, toddler gym, for nearly a year. He enjoys this for the most part. Sometimes he becomes stressed if there are people in his personal space or if his sensory issues are bothering him on that particular day for some reason or another.

It seems, though, that every time I take him to class people try to chat with me which I really do not mind. The problem I am running into is that these people are very confused as to why my family operates the way it does. I do try to be an example of speaking and modeling instead of threatening and pulling on a child. I leave info cards about peaceful and attachment parenting in the restrooms as well. However, sometimes I end up spending more time educating others than time with my child or children.

For example, one time a lady noticed that my son was not interested in speaking to another child. She was concerned, though I was not, I went on to explain that some children prefer to take their time in getting to know others. I also threw in a quick bit of info about sensory processing disorder. The lady, meaning well, went on to say how preschool helps with that. In her defense, she did not know I hold  a master's in teaching or that we homeschool. I probably had a horrible look on my face because I was so shocked that anyone still thinks socialization occurs in early childhood classrooms at an acceptable rate. I quickly recovered and let her know all the information above and that we are working on an new evaluation for my son.

Today another gal walked up to me and noticed that my son had drawn with yellow marker on his legs. He did this in the car on the way to class which is fine by me. He even said "tada" when finished which was really cute. The lady said something to the effect of oh I see he did art on his legs. I said that yes sometimes he does. One of his sisters used to do that too. She said oh and his toenails are purple too I guess he drew on them too. I said oh well that is nail polish. He asked for it so I painted his nails. She said oh he must like to copy his mommy. I pointed to my unpainted toenails and said no actually we don't do gender roles at our house so he made the choice to paint his nails on his own. She looked confused.

I do not mind being an example. I do mind having to stop and educate when it is a time for my son and I to spend together bonding. It just seems that living in California, there should be less people to educate and more people who peacefully parent. Ok I think my vent is over. Thank you for listening. Now I can be a good example again.:)